Tranquility: Peace in Process


I’ve always been fascinated with Chinese characters, and the symbol for Tranquility is one that means a great deal to me.

Quite literally, the symbol depicts male dominance in the Chinese tradition, where the smaller symbol of a man’s “roof” hovers over the symbol for “woman.”

I like the explanation provided in The Spirit of the Chinese Character, by Barbara Aria. She writes, “…[the symbol] has a richer meaning, reflecting the parallel between microcosm and macrocosm. Just as a harmonious relationship between man and woman brings tranquility to the heart, peace comes when universal energies are in harmony—the forceful, creative energy of heaven above, and the gentle, receptive energy of the earth below.”

Growing up in the Chesapeake Bay region, I have lived my life surrounded by the more natural forces of tranquility, as land and water constantly battle for domination among the brackish tributaries of Chesapeake. I know. That sounds so contradictory, doesn’t it? Talking about forces and battles and domination when it comes to tranquility just seems so…unnatural.

Tranquility, though, is rooted in discipline and respect; it is the reward for the efforts put forth to achieve such a balance.

The hard part, of course, is reminding ourselves that the battle to find that balance is well worth the tranquility that follows.

My wife is gifted in the kitchen; she has the patience and natural talent to take somebody’s culinary creation and make it her own. It doesn’t come without a great deal of labor, though. She might spend hours contemplating the right spices—and their exact amounts—to compliment the main ingredient and make the meal just exactly perfect.

After all the hard work is over and we finally sit down at the table to enjoy the meal, we savor the labor and the sweat used to reach such perfection. Tranquility achieved.

Tranquility does not come without that hard work. We all yearn to find that peaceful view atop that faraway mountain or shore when the sun descends into the horizon, leaving us breathless; we forget the labor it took to take the long walk to get there in the first place.

As writers, we face that battle all the time, struggling through drafts and revisions to reach that moment of order where our writing might be considered even marginally close to providing a sense of tranquility for our readers. There’s nothing more comforting than finishing a good story and appreciating that order, that balance. We forget about the struggles the writer went through to achieve such balance.

As individuals, though, we don’t get the opportunity to display our “final drafts” of who we are on a daily basis. We live our lives in draft mode, battling that balance in full view to find those rare moments of tranquility as a result of our hard work to find that balance. Understanding that we are all in “draft mode” striving for that balance, that tranquility, might make us all a little more aware that our friends and loved ones (and even those we struggle with) are not too different from who we are.

We’re all just trying to get it right. We’re all looking for that moment that takes our breath away.

Let’s help each other breathe, so that we may enjoy the tranquility of being breathless.

227Sunset 3

2 thoughts on “Tranquility: Peace in Process

  1. Awesome post!! I had my feminist feathers ruffled by the intro, but you didn’t go where I expected to go with it. 🙂 Photography is similar too… taking the shot and then all the editing that goes into making it a polished finished piece. There is a certain “struggle” to create a piece that adequately conveys the balance and tranquility inherent in nature… and makes it look effortless.
    Great post. Got me thinking this morning….


  2. Cara: Glad to see it went in a different direction than you were expecting…Good point about that struggle…We have such a hard time with forests re-establishing themselves because it’s not pretty; it goes against everything we believe to be right when we see forest land that has been flooded or burned out from a lightning storm. The battle rages on toward the ever-beautiful state of tranquility…


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